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This weekend, I saw something that I needed to see… probably ten years ago. It was a confirmation of something I already knew, something that any reasonable person would automatically land on as the truth from an objective standpoint. It’s a blog post by Dave Walsh titled, “Be Whoever You’re Gonna Be,” and I wish I could craft it into a sword or a hammer or something, bust into every indie author group on Facebook, and just start swinging it. Go read that, then come back here.

Now, I needed to see that post about ten years ago because I have spent a decade in the indie author hell pit of self-doubt regarding my productivity and bemoaning my laziness and lack of “wanting it” as much as other authors. I never intended to be an indie author. I assumed that when I self-published The Boss and The Girlfriend, I would make like forty bucks and go back to the demoralizing grind of begging for scraps from traditional publishers. I didn’t realize it would become my entire career, and I didn’t realize how much the rhetoric of the indie author community would harm my self-worth and self-image. And I would never have imagined that it wasn’t a problem with me, but a problem with the grind mindset of indie publishing that wasn’t just making me hate writing, but hate myself to my core if I hadn’t seen Dave’s blog post.

This has not been the greatest couple of years for me. 2022 started with a bang, with my best friend dying suddenly in January. I got Covid at her funeral because fuck you, Jenny, that’s why. The following September, I lost another friend to cancer, and in October, I was involved in a car accident that damaged the tendon, muscle, and soft tissue in my shoulder. In the intervening time, another friend almost died from a ruptured appendix. Another had a critically needed aortic valve replacement. So, obviously, this entire block of time has been completely stress-free. And then, this past March, I had to do the thing I hate most: I had to take time off. Why? Because I could no longer “tough it out” with my destroyed shoulder.

When I say “take time off,” by the way? I had the surgery on a Friday, took pain medication for two days, then went off everything but ice packs and ibuprofen to get back to writing my Yonder and Radish serials. The companies, by the way, didn’t ask this of me. They’ve been very understanding as I’ve navigated deadline extensions. Because of who I am and my blue-collar upbringing, it felt unforgivably lazy to let myself heal, especially since I’d planned a month off from my Patreon. A month! Sure, the surgeon and physical therapists and everyone I knew who’d ever had the surgery had warned me that the recovery would be long and painful, anywhere from six months to one year total. But I had taken a month off from my Patreon and two whole days off from writing. Two days! And all that had happened to me was a traumatic surgery in which a nerve block accidentally paralyzed my throat and chest. I had to be intubated, tissue was removed, bones were drilled, screws were placed, and I experienced the most pain I have ever experienced in my life, with no support from the surgeon’s office because it was the weekend and their answering service felt that a screaming, sobbing patient begging for help wasn’t an “emergency.”

And I got back to work on Monday.

With my arm in a sling, propped up on pillows, I gritted my teeth and cried and forced myself to sit at my desk and get my word count. And it wasn’t just the physical pain that bothered me. It was the mental process running the whole time: You’re not in that much pain. You’re being dramatic. It’s been two whole days since you had surgery. What’s wrong with you? You’re lazy. You don’t deserve anything you have. Other people want this more. Do you think other indie authors are taking time off for this kind of thing? They’re not. And that’s why they’re more successful. That’s why they’re making five figures a month, and you’re making four. You’re worthless and lazy, and you don’t want this. You are letting everyone down, and frankly, if your dead grandfather could see you being such a whiny little worthless bitch, he’d hate you exactly the way everyone should hate you. Because you are worthless.

That’s not an exaggeration for dramatic effect. That goes through my mind every time I do anything job-related. Even writing this blog post, there’s a voice in the back of mind: You’re wasting time. No one wants to hear this. You’ll write a thousand words here that you could be writing on your manuscript. That’s why your numbers have dipped. That’s why your latest release netted you a hundred and twelve dollars in release month. Because you haven’t earned it. Because you don’t work hard enough, and all you ever do is complain. That’s why nobody likes you. Because you don’t work hard, and you’re a lazy, worthless, spoiled brat.

Logically, I’m aware that all careers have hills and valleys, and I’m incredibly lucky that I’m able to continue being the breadwinner for my family but… I still feel lazy. Lazy for taking two days off to heal from major surgery performed under general anesthetic, a surgery I had already been told might take a year to recover from fully.

I cannot reiterate enough: two. days.

Over the years, I’ve stopped reading my reviews. I stopped when someone criticized my use of alternate pronouns in one of my books. It felt so intensely personal, and my writing was getting increasingly queer-focused. I decided I needed to protect myself, and the only way I could do that was by not reading reviews. But my serials started coming out on Yonder and Radish, and people can leave comments. Those are more fun because you get to see people react to your stories chapter by chapter and know exactly where these reactions (both positive and negative) were coming from.

But then I started to see things that wore me down. Things like, “I have to pay for this? Deleting the app.” There were so many comments like that, where people were outraged that I greedily wanted compensation for my work. I started to wonder if my work was worth anything. If I was worth anything. If I was scamming people because a publisher asked people to pay for the book I wrote. I started to consider whether I should just make my future work and entire backlist free, get a job outside the home, and be grateful that people even deigned to read my work in the first place.

Then, a couple of months into my recovery from this surgery, a deeply needed surgery that I had delayed four months out of fear of not wanting my career enough, fear of not deserving time off, fear of laziness, someone left a comment on one of my serials that has broken me. They left it at the conclusion of what was the third full-length novel I had written in 2023. I can quote it verbatim. I won’t because it feels like that would be the same as outing a reviewer. But to paraphrase, they angrily demanded why the story was taking a month-long break when they, a paying customer, had spent money on the previous books. They shouldn’t have to wait thirty days for the next book.

I stared at that comment, completely defeated. It was the confirmation of that voice in my head. I’m lazy. I don’t produce content fast enough. I don’t give. I only take. And I don’t deserve a single thing that I have.

The reason they have to wait is that I am depleted. By July first, I will have written four full-length novels this year. That isn’t enough. I should have been able to write faster. Other writers write faster. They don’t bother spending time with their families. They don’t take time off for things like unbearable grief, traumatic accidents, or painful surgeries. I’m lazy. I’m not good enough. I’m not cut out for this business.

At the same time, I recognize the problem. And I’m angry about it. I see the comment for what it is: entitlement. This reader felt entitled. I should be pumping out words at super-human speeds. Fulfilling their demand for entertainment should be my only goal. Not my family, my mental or physical health, just their desire for the next installment of a story that wouldn’t even fucking exist if not for me. Their response was not “thank you,” which I don’t expect, but “fuck you, I want a Golden Ticket now!

And what has caused this reader entitlement? Authors. Indie authors who are willing to resort to ghostwriters and AI because of this desperate need to “game the algorithm” over on Amazon, the never-ending quest to release as many books as possible in an impossible time frame, and the glorification of ignoring all human needs and obligations to serve up books, usually for free in the KDP program as the mark of being a Real Author™.

And this has caused a tendency to apologize profusely when serious, life-changing events cause even the smallest and most understandable of delays: First of all, I want to thank everybody who supported the release of BRIDE OF THE MINOTAUR last Tuesday. I know that the sequel is supposed to come out this Friday, but the sudden death of my husband of thirty years has really put a dent in my ability to finish the book on time. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hit publish on Monday, but it will depend on how long the funeral takes. I’m hoping it won’t be more than a couple of hours. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your patience and I’m so, so sorry to be letting you down like this. It’s unforgivable, unprofessional, and inconvenient to my loyal readers. There will be supportive comments, telling the author to take the time she needs and that, of course, no one would expect her not to delay the release. But there will, guaranteed, be people in the comments saying, I’m sorry for your personal tragedy, but frankly, I’m sick of authors making promises and then not delivering. First, it was D. L. Rose delaying the next Legends of Alamora book by two whole weeks because she “needed” a new kidney, and now this. If you want to keep your readers, maybe think of how this type of disappointment will drive them away. I, for one, will not be reading you again.

And we’ve just gotten to the point where we accept this. We accept that we are failures for not being superhuman machines, spitting out hundreds of thousands of words per day. We make unreasonable sacrifices and, in some cases, beg for understanding about things where understanding should be automatic. We caused this problem. Some of us more than others—looking at you, rapid release squad—but we all contribute.

On top of the surgery and the three full-length novels, I received an amazing opportunity. I’m directing a production of The Music Man. This isn’t just any production: it’s the one Jill was most excited about. One that we talked about in our last text conversation after I found out my theater would be producing her all-time favorite musical. Plus, directing musical theater had been my dream in high school; I truly believed I would have a massive career as a performer on Broadway that would segue into becoming the most celebrated director of musical theater in history. Now, I’m not achieving that particular dream, but I am achieving a part of it. I’m being paid to put my vision for The Music Man on stage. And I’m doing it while honoring my best friend’s memory, healing a very small piece of a wound that I will feel for the rest of my life.

Now, every day when I leave for rehearsal, I think about the comment that person left on my serial. I think about the fact that they have to wait thirty days. Because I had the gall to accept my dream job. Because I selfishly had surgery and took two days off instead of properly resting and recovering. Because I’m lazy. Because I don’t want it enough.

I needed to see Dave’s blog post. It obviously doesn’t heal a decade of psychological damage or the grief and accute stress of the past two years. But it does make me feel like I have permission to be alive, to pay attention to life, to live my life for myself and not for people who will never see my output as “enough.” Will it banish the voice in my head that constantly tells me I’m not a writer, I’m a pretender? That as long as I lazily indulge in things like healing from major surgery, I’ll never be worthy? No. But for a couple of minutes, reading about someone else who’s feeling the same frustration as me, I felt a little better.

I hope that by sharing his post, and sharing this one, I might make someone feel a little bit better, too.

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Here for the first time because you’re in quarantine and someone on Reddit recommended my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps? Welcome! Consider checking out my own take on the Billionaire BDSM genre, The Boss. Find it on AmazonB&NSmashwords, iBooks, and Radish!


  1. Monica

    I remember an article? Blog post? from maybe 2010 by Neil Gaiman that included the line “George R R Martin is not your bitch” which addresses the entitlement of readers and it’s always stuck with me as I wait for things I love to come out. (The times I had to say to myself “Emily Croy Barker is not your bitch” while waiting for the sequel to Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic!)

    I found you with the recaps, a decade ago? And in that time you have given me books I go back to time and time again because I love them so much (you would be alarmed at the amount of times and various combinations I have read the Penny and Ian books!) in addition to new things that become favorites.

    Really all this to say you are amazingly prolific but also your writing is worth waiting for. Period.

    (And thank you)
    (And I’m so excited you’re excited about the Music Man – enjoy the experience!)

    June 6, 2023
  2. Stella price
    Stella price


    I feel this. But I have recently come to the realization that these “readers” aren’t worth it. If your going to be all in my mac and cheese because a Book isn’t coming out Immediately, you aren’t worth it, period. Your “hobby reading” is finite, and you and your whole idea of NOW NOW NOW has a shelf life. People don’t like to hear that, but its true.

    But J… lady, you are a fucking powerhouse. You have survived through all of this, longer than the majority of these chuckleheads that are catering to the self important bullshit of hobby readers. and the big thing you need to take away from that is that you will be here long after they have run their course.

    take the time you need. Real readers understand. Real readers aren’t expecting you to be a one woman library. they are the ones that savor the words and the stories and hold tight in the while they wait for the next.

    You always got this, and I get the brain making things hard and feeling like a failure, but you aren’t. You are amazing. All of us that have stuck it out this far are.

    June 6, 2023
  3. Thank you. I desperately needed to hear this today. I’ve been feeling discouraged and like a failure because life has completely derailed my ability to write. I don’t have a readership, it’s not my career, but I still chastise myself for not doing it. For failing to live up to my dream and not following up on the book I wrote and promised a sequel to. I know I’m probably never going to be a full-time writer but I do want to finish my next two books even if it’s just for me.

    The thing that’s so discouraging lately is the content machine. It’s not enough to write a good story anymore, people finish it in two days and then ask when the next thing is coming. We can’t just take a breath and relax anymore. It’s always on to the next thing, more, more, more! I want to write more but I feel almost like if I don’t have the next thing finished by x time, why bother? No one will care now. I need to get out of that thinking and just write again, without the pressure. And I’m saying this as a casual writer, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for full-time writers.

    Hang in there, Jenny. I appreciate the work you put in on this blog and in your books. Where We Land is one of my favourite comfort reads. Thank you for your stories, your funny commentary, and for inspiring this would be writer to write.

    June 6, 2023
  4. Megan C.
    Megan C.

    This really resonated with me. Thank you for writing it and for pointing me toward Dave’s post. It sounds like you’ve had a hell of a time and I’m so sorry for all of the pain you’ve experienced. I’m really happy for you that you’re getting to do The Music Man! That’s awesome! Please give yourself permission to enjoy it. You deserve to enjoy your life, Jenny.

    June 6, 2023
  5. bewalsh7

    Jenny, thank you for putting out whatever content you do, because I enjoy it immensely!! Please take the time to heal yourself, physically and mentally. I’m sorry there are people out there who can’t understand this concept of a life you have outside of writing, but hang in there!

    I’m sure the people that love you and your work (whatever you get out!) far outnumber the people that have criticized your “slow pace”. Even if they are vocal! I will continue to devour whatever content you get out, and while I’m always left thirsty for more, I’ll be patient because I know that allows you to deliver your best self.

    Take care!

    June 6, 2023
  6. Carrie

    Hi! I’d like to subscribe to your Patreon to support you because I love your content and I’d like to see more where I can! Do you know if I will have access to old recaps that have been posted there is I subscribe now or not? No worries either way, I will still be along for the ride of Modelland!

    Take time to heal and do things you like…be selfish sometimes! It can be good for the soul. <3

    June 6, 2023
    • Me

      You will!

      June 10, 2023
  7. Kaz

    I stared at this for a while, left, came back and stared some more, had lunch catered by Chef Boyardee, and came back, went and watched Clash of the TItans, and here I am back again. And all of that because I feel this in my soul. I’ve been drowning for the last nine years since cancer took my mom. She was my biggest fan. My cheerleader and proof reader, beta reader, and the person who held my hand and told me I mattered.

    I haven’t published anything since she passed. Hell, I’ve only finished one novel in all this time. And every day I’ve felt like a failure as an author. I’ve even lied to people when they’ve asked me how my writing’s going. “Great.” Or if I finished a book yet. “Almost done!” As if I couldn’t admit that my head’s been an ugly place for a long time and I’m not sure how to get out of it. The expectation of literally EVERYONE that words just fall out of the sky onto the page and that mental health should have no bearing on my productivity has been crippling.

    But this helped. Reading what you’ve said here, and what Dave Walsh had to say, has helped. At least a little. I’m going to try and set the guilt aside and find polite ways to tell people to fuck off when they give me unsolicited “advice” on what I’m doing wrong. I’m going to give myself permission to be the mess I’ve been for close to a decade and see if I can’t build myself a ladder out of this hole and find the love of the written word I’ve had since I was 8 and Mom gave me the Dragonriders of Pern to read. I think I need to spend some quality time in the Weyr is what.

    Thanks, Jenny, for sharing your pain and grief, frustrations, and all of it and your journey to climb back on top of that hill. Sending love and huggles to you. Huggles because a hug is nice, and a cuddle is nice, but both is better.

    June 6, 2023
  8. skirt

    I’m so sorry people are treating you this way. I’m on vacation and started re reading the boss series on a whim and I think about you while I read it – I’m so proud of you and how far you’ve come! I hope you can be kinder to yourself, you deserve the world.

    June 7, 2023

    (Sorry for my English…I’m a French reader!!!)

    Miss Jenny,

    I just finished reading your post….and I have to say that unfortunately we live in a cruel world…where some human beings are only human…in name…

    Unfortunately, some readers don’t actually understand that novels are written by human beings (writers who also deal with family life, illnesses, and other human issues…) and often these same impatient readers, are those who do not pay for the novels they read, contenting themselves only with illegally downloading the novels of these authors…).

    Because when you like the writings of an author, when you know the time, the suffering, the anguish, etc… that it takes to write a good novel, you cannot “humanly” consider that this author is a slacker because you have to wait 6/9 months to read the rest of a story…

    it is true that it can be frustrating to wait a few months, even 1 whole year to have the sequel to a novel (especially us who have to wait for it to be translated into our respective languages…), but happiness is still more intense to know that the author took his time to bring you an excellent sequel to the novel.

    Personally, I fell madly in love with your writings, especially: The Boss….and… By the Numbers (Ian and Penny)…

    since the author Mr. Pierce (whose person I’m still looking for who this person really is!!! smile!!!…), I hadn’t known an author who writes with so much passion, with all his heart , his soul, his spirit, who writes with passion, honesty, realism and without concession… as you do dear Miss Jenny…

    I have always come out of your novels learning a life lesson (sentimental, affective, sexual, behavioral, etc.)

    I have always waited patiently for your new novels (or the rest of your series…), because I know that to write well, you need time, you need to be in good physical, mental and emotional condition…

    And I will continue to patiently wait for your new novels (or series…) because you fully deserve it…

    Good authors are rare (especially in the world of romance and urban fantasy) and you are definitely one of these excellent AUTHORS!!!

    For me, as well as for many other readers who follow and love you, You are and will NEVER be a lazy author!!!

    I send you lots of positive vibes!!! (kiss!!!)

    PS: in my humble opinion, the authors who write more than 5/6 novels per year (therefore prolific…), are not necessarily the most talented authors (repetitive stories, without flavour, without interest)…and its authors are the most downloaded …. illegally … because their novels are considered “fast food”

    June 7, 2023
  10. Tina

    The amount of content you put out amazes me every time I come across it, both in quantity and quality. Add in what shit life keeps on throwing at you and I‘m left speechless in wonder.

    I have a plate that‘s perhaps 10% as full as yours and I would be over the moon if I would manage 10% as much as you do. I‘m recently being „lazy“ with writing while doing something else that makes me laugh tears daily. Damn, it‘s good to laugh like this and I‘m not apologizing to anyone!

    Would I love to read more of yours? Yes! But even if we don’t know each other it makes me just as happy to see you give yourself permission to just do what you want and need. Happy people make me happy, too LOL

    Wishing you lots of fun with your theatre production! 🙂

    June 7, 2023
  11. Fuck them. Fuck their sense of entitlement. Fuck the way they think you are under a duty to them. You have one obligation to them, exactly one and one only. That is to make your book the best thing you can write. And only that.

    June 7, 2023
  12. Thanks for this Jenny. I’m sorry you’ve had such a horrible time and know that you are loved and appreciated by your fans and we want you to be happy and taking care of yourself. Something that I know for other people and then never apply to myself because it’s way harder treating myself nicely. I needed this too. Congratulations on your dream job, you’re going to smash it!

    June 8, 2023
  13. A.Y.

    Hey, I came here after seeing the comments on one of your Radish serials. It seems like people are absurdly entitled and treat any app where they get products like Yelp for all products. I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of (1) the surgery, (2) the grief and traumas, (3) imposter syndrome, (4) indie authors being Like That, and (5) all these bad reader comments on top of it all.

    June 10, 2023
    • A.Y.

      It’s a lot to be dealing with. You’re not lazy. You deserve time off.

      Congratulations on your dream job.

      June 10, 2023
  14. Me

    Um, hasn’t the author of Game of Thrones taken like 10 years for a sequel?
    Has the world come to a halting stop while the fans wait?
    People need to chill the hell out. As long as their is hope for a continuation, that should suffice.
    As a manga reader, there have been a few series that have been left on hiatus for years due to the author/artist just moving on. Many times with a promise of “later” but it’s been like 10+ years that you have to assume that “later” won’t come. That, I can understand being annoyed at having paid for something and have it be incomplete. B*itching about having bought previous novels in a series and having to wait for a new volume? Yeah, BS.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never read any of your novels, so I have no opinion on having to wait for you to write, but….that doesn’t f*cking matter because life happens sometimes and we can’t be a-holes who think the universe owes us our entertainment. It would be one thing if the delay was gratuitous, but it’s not. Writing is not only your job, but something you like to do, so it’s stupid to think you’d purposely would leave people high and dry waiting for the next chapter of whatever they are reading to drop.

    Those complainers think that by complaining they may be “encouraging” when it actually has the opposite effect. I also read a lot of scanlations of manga and such, and I always see posts by the translators/uploaders either apologizing for “taking too long” to release a new chapter, or telling their detractors to f*ck off cus they are doing this for free in their free time and if they don’t like it, they can try translating themselves.

    Can waiting for something you anticipate annoying?
    Yes it is, but all things pass. Eventually you forget you were waiting and then, bam! Surprise here’s your update and the world didn’t end because you waited.

    In short, ignore the haters. They’re stupid and miserable if they need to bitch about something so nonsensical as waiting for their entertainment to drop. While the wait they can try to do something productive with their time.

    June 12, 2023
  15. verdande

    There should be a way to block readers on Radish. That person should never get to finish the next chapter. Hell, just ban them from the platform. That would be a fitting punishment.

    June 12, 2023
  16. Leslie

    I needed this. I needed the blog post you linked. I needed this blog post. I’ve been developing, drafting, retracting, re-imagining my first novel for three years. In that time I’ve lost both my parents, my father-in-law, gotten cancer (diagnosed just months after my mom died of it), had to switch jobs due to ADA-related discrimination, and my son had major spinal surgery. I spend every available minute writing, editing, critiquing, taking writing classes, analyzing long length book reviews, reading your book read-throughs all to perfect my craft. Some days, I even shut myself away for 12 hours to write. I’m on no deadline but my own and I’m doing all this with chemo side effects and I *still* have that same voice in my head telling me I don’t want it enough, I should have finished this book my now, I don’t have what it takes, etc. Just knowing I’m not alone and that it’s okay to not be a machine has really helped me see the truth of what I’m doing to myself. And I don’t have to. Thanks, Jenny. I hope we both give these negative inner dialogues the middle finger they deserve. 🙂

    June 17, 2023
  17. Margaret R.
    Margaret R.

    Sending a virtual hug. You’re dealing with grief, injuries, and mental illness. You aren’t lazy for writing at a slower pace, and taking a break is a sign you are taking care of yourself.

    Also, fuck that asshole who criticized you for using alternate pronouns. I follow you partly because you’re someone that can be trusted to handle queer issues with sensitivity.

    July 1, 2023
  18. enchantedsleeper


    I’m backreading some posts on your blog and I wanted to send some love your way after reading this. It’s just a drop in what probably feels like a tidal wave of bullshit but you deserve to hear more positivity and support. I’m furious at the entitlement of dickheads who think it’s okay to send these comments to someone that they’re probably not even considering will be reading them and taking them to heart, someone that they probably don’t even think of as a human being with emotions and struggles and a goddamn life, just a “content” factory for their amusement. But I know you know that. Still, it makes me unreasonably angry that this is the world we live in.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your best friend and I’m really happy that you are getting the opportunity to direct a production that’s so special to you and her. Fuck the haters; your happiness and your fulfilment is so much more important. Please take the time you need to rest and also to focus on the musical. I hope it’s going amazingly.

    July 5, 2023
  19. If these readers cannot wait until the next book, they are always free to write their own. I mean, cannot take that much time, if a 30-day-wait is too much? [/sarcasm]

    We had a 2022 similar to yours (two human deaths, one near-death, several serious injuries, legal matters, a dead cat, …) and at some point I chose publishing a good book over publishing a book on time. The book was a whole year(!) later than intended. Fortunately the few readers I have were understanding, and everyone who thinks these things are not worth waiting for does not deserve a single nice word from me anyway. Take your time, heal, experience life, rest yourself, and never forget that writing is supposed to be fun most of all.

    August 30, 2023

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